Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Nutrition. Under the Supervision of Professor Nancy M. Lewis.
Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Martha M. Valverde


The purpose of this project was to investigate interest of Midwestern dietitians in online omega-3 fatty acids information and education resources useful within their work setting. Qualitative in-depth interviews with ten registered dietitians, selected from the Nebraska Dietetic Association online membership map were used to identify themes useful in website development. Twelve overarching themes were identified. Valued online features include information that is easy to access, scan, save, print, and send. Findings highlight the need to reformat current online information to accommodate time sensitive search methods used by dietitians. Omega-3 fatty acids learning modules were developed and pilot tested for content, clarity, and online accessibility. Learnomega3rd, Goggle website, was created to house learning modules. An online research survey questionnaire was created using Survey Monkey. These were both pilot tested for content, clarity and online access. Nebraska Dietetic Association email list serve members were invited to visit website, use information to answer their omega-3 fatty acid questions, and provide feedback. Unique website visits resulted in 281 of 520 (54%) visitors to learnomega-3 website. Among those visiting website, 55 (20%) usable survey responses were obtained. Content analysis methodology was used to analyze text responses. Three major omega-3 fatty acid themes were identified by dietitians (known benefits, best sources, and recommendations). Of 142 questions submitted, 49 frequently asked questions were identified. These provide an online roadmap useful in streamlining quicker access to relevant information. Primary uses for online omega-3 fatty acid information reported include: staying current (82%), medical nutrition therapy counseling (62%), individual education (62%), and group education (51%). Fifty eight percent of respondents were satisfied with time needed to find answers to their omega-3 fatty acid questions using website resources; not being satisfied was associated with inability to locate answers using resources provided. Further exploration is recommended to test usefulness of this website to support dietitians in developing omega- 3 fatty acids evidence based guidelines for their work setting.
Advisor: Nancy M. Lewis